SAN PEDRO SULA – Canada and Honduras signed a free trade agreement Friday as Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper concluded his tour of Latin America.
Amid the trade agreement, which has been under negotiations for 10 years, Harper acknowledged human rights and security problems exist in Honduras, but Canada has no information that links those problems to the government of President Porfirio Lobo, Harper said.
“We know there are significant problems of security and human rights in this country, but we have no information to suggest that those are in any way perpetrated by the government,” said Harper according to Canadian broadcaster CBC.
“In fact, the president of Honduras himself… was a prominent human rights leader in this country, and that’s got a lot to do with the reason he was elected president,” added the Canadian leader.
Harper was posed similar questions earlier this week when he signed a trade agreement in Colombia as part of a Latin American tour.
Wednesday in Bogota, Harper said the agreement with Colombia contains clauses that address environmental and human rights. He followed up his trip to Colombia with a stop in Costa Rica. The tour began in Brazil on Monday.
While in Honduras, Harper also announced that Canada would contribute $9.2 million to security plans in the country.
With a rate of more then 50 homicides per 100,000 residents, drug cartels have contributed to making the region the most violent non-war zone in the world.